GARY COOK MUSIC

MY JOURNEY

THE EARLY YEARS

I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My Northern New Mexico heritage (White, Spanish, Native American, French) influenced my life and music. After my father earned his Masters Degree in Art from the University of New Mexico, my  family loaded up the Ford station wagon and moved to Thibodeux, Louisiana.


Growing up in the South was the beginning of my early musical education through osmosis. I was exposed to a wide variety of music thanks to my older siblings, AM radio, and a funky bus driver that cranked "sweet soul music" on his 8-track stereo during the ride home from school each day. Those early years were filled with great music. I listened to everything from The Beatles to Motown to Led Zeppelin.

In those days, we entertained ourselves with record albums and an electric keyboard/organ that was stashed away in my sister's room. I quickly discovered the sound of the I-IV-V chord progression using the 12 small round buttons located on the left side of the keyboard. It was easy! One finger could blast out major and minor triads in any key. It wasn't long before I began adding an occasional Minor to the I-IV-V progression. I wrote my first song on that keyboard at the ripe old age of 6.


One summer afternoon, I heard music resonating from a neighbor's shed. Being a curious one, I wandered about with a few wide-eyed kids to get a glimpse of our neighborhood rock heroes. The guitarist asked if anyone knew how to sing. I was normally shy, but for some reason I stepped up, grabbed the microphone and belted a tune with the band. It was a rush hearing my own voice through a PA system I knew right then and there that someday I would be in a band.

Several years later my older brother got a Yamaha acoustic guitar for Christmas. I took one look at that guitar and was convinced that it was the instrument for me. I was only 9 or 10 years old, but I would have gladly traded my new orange bike for that guitar! 

GUITAR CLASS

My family returned to New Mexico, and set roots in Santa Fe. I signed up for guitar class (top row 3rd from the left) at Harrington Junior High School, and discovered my love and natural talent for guitar.

 

My older brother allowed me to borrow his steel string acoustic for a few months until we scrounged up enough money to buy my own. I formed my first rock band (Midnight Fire), and began writing songs in 8th grade. Our debut gig was at the school talent show. We finished in third place and earned $10.00 for our effort. The following day the boys in the band marched down to the local music store to purchase an 8-foot curly guitar cord!

BASEMENT JAMS

I was fortunate to learn a couple of riffs here and there from my brother and his music/artist friends. The "basement jams" were a ton of fun! I used to sneak down to play guitar with my brother and various musicians that happened to be passing through town. One of my more memorable moments was when we were jamming with Johnny Winter's guitarist and I broke the E String on his acoustic!

At age 13, entering my freshmen year of high school, I auditioned for the advanced guitar class with my own vocal/acoustic rendition of "Tuesday's Gone" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It wasn't long before I transitioned from acoustic to electric guitar after purchasing a Black Les Paul copy from a classmate for $25.00. My life of rock n roll began!

At 15, I began playing rock and blues, and in my teen years, began opening for various acts including Bonnie Raitt, Fabulous T-Birds, John Lee Hooker and others.

 

For the next several years, I played the Albuquerque club scene - six nights a week. It was a great experience and taught me to be a more consistent musician. I was amazed at how each band provided their own concert sound and lighting systems - with paid engineers to boot! Local shows rivaled that of small touring bands. I met some amazing musicians that have gone on to play with artists in all genres including Rick Springfield, Whitesnake, George Clinton, Lita Ford, Ozzy Osbourne, Don Henley, The Voice and the list goes on. The Southwest still continues to crank out great talent!

During my "club era", there were times when we played 31 nights in a row without a night off - thanks to an amazing agent named Joe Bufalino!

After paying dues in the Albuquerque club scene, I loaded up the pickup truck and moved to Hollywood. Yes, there were swimming pools, movie stars, and thousands of starving musicians - including me! 

GROVE SCHOOL OF MUSIC

After playing guitar and performing professionally for 12 years, I enrolled at the Dick Grove School of Music in Studio City, California. It was there that I dedicated two years of my life to "studying music" - learning theory, composition and improvisation. This was a new experience , putting the names to chords I already knew but didn't have names for them! I graduated GSM as the "Outstanding Guitarist of the Year", and was asked by Dick Grove to join the staff as a guitar instructor.

A BRAND NEW DAY 

While living in Los Angeles, I continued my career in the music industry with emphasis on songwriting, recording and producing. I have been fortunate to have traveled the world with my guitar. In addition to performing, I was a guitar clinician and product demonstrator for Roland and Boss. Some milestonesin my career include credits as songwriter with Neal Schon of Journey, VG8 sound creations for Sting on "Brand New Day", New Orleans Jazz Festival with Joni Mitchell, various sessions with Grammy nominated producers, over 100 placements with underscores and compositions in cable television and film, "Guitar Legends" blues/rock release on Zomba Jive Records/Bruton Music and hundreds of other projects in Los Angeles and abroad. I'm also a published songwriter and have won awards in songwriting.

I currently reside in Los Angeles, California and work as a performer, studio musician, songwriter, singer, producer and educator.

The journey continues....